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NEW YORK — Gold is having a summer revival. The price of gold touched $1,420 an ounce this week as escalating tensions in the Middle East, unstable currency markets and renewed demand for jewelry in China and India pushed prices higher. Gold has surged 17 percent since sinking to $1,212 in late June, its lowest level in almost three years. A gain of 20 percent or more would put the metal back in a bull market. By Steve Rothwell.
WASHINGTON — U.S. consumers barely increased their spending in July as their income grew more slowly, held back in part by steep government spending cuts that reduced federal workers' salaries. The tepid gains suggest economic growth is off to a weak start in the July-September quarter. By Martin Crutsinger.
— CONSUMER SENTIMENT — A measure of U.S. consumer confidence slips from a six-year high in July, as Americans express less optimism about the coming months.
WALL STREET WEEK AHEAD
NEW YORK — Imagine gathering nearly everything that has rattled investors' nerves over the past four years: the European debt crisis, battles over the U.S. government's budget and moves by the Federal Reserve. Now imagine all of them crammed into one month. That month? It's September. As August draws to a close, trading desks and investment firms are anxiously looking toward the lineup of events in September and warning clients of turbulence ahead. By Matthew Craft.
— BERNANKE-METER-GLANCE — A look at events that could shake markets in September, from the Fed's tapering to German elections. Events are ranked on a scale of 1 Bernanke (No sweat) to 5 Bernankes (Uh Oh!).
WASHINGTON — Lawrence Summers is the White House insider with a direct line to President Barack Obama. Janet Yellen is the Federal Reserve veteran with a long list of congressional patrons. The two Ivy League-trained economists have emerged as leading contenders to replace Ben Bernanke as chairman of the Fed, the nation's central bank. Obama could announce his nominee in the coming weeks. By Jim Kuhnhenn.
TOOTH FAIRY INFLATION
NEW YORK — Days of finding a quarter under your pillow are long gone. The Tooth Fairy no longer leaves loose change. Kids this year are getting an average of $3.70 per lost tooth, a 23 percent jump over last year's rate of $3 a tooth, according to a survey by payment processor Visa Inc. released Friday. An improving economy means parents are giving more. By Joe Pisani.
AP graphic planned.
GENEVA — Zurich Insurance Group will investigate whether its former chairman put "undue pressure" on the chief financial officer before his apparent suicide, the company's new acting chairman says. The acting chairman, Tom de Swaan, says the company's board will probe the relationship between Josef Ackermann, who abruptly resigned Thursday, and CFO Pierre Wauthier, who was found dead earlier this week. By John Heilprin.
MARKETS & ECONOMY:
WASHINGTON — The U.S. concludes that nearly half of Iran's monthly earnings from crude oil exports are accumulating in accounts overseas because of sanctions that restrict Tehran's access to the money. It's the latest indication that new sanctions imposed in February are deepening Iran's economic distress and making it increasingly difficult to access billions of dollars in vital oil revenues. By Marjorie Olster.
NEW YORK — The stock market is drifting lower in midday trading after disappointing news about consumer spending.
— OIL PRICES — The price of oil falls below $108 a barrel Friday after British lawmakers refuse to approve military action against Syria.
AMSTERDAM — Carlos Slim threatens to walk away from his €7.2 billion ($9.5 billion) offer to buy the 70 percent of Dutch telecom Royal KPN NV he doesn't already own after a foundation linked to the company mounted a "poison pill" defense. By Toby Sterling.
— AIRLINES-MERGER LAWSUIT — A federal judge says a trial over the government's lawsuit to block the proposed merger of American Airlines and US Airways will start Nov. 25, a timetable favored by the airlines.
— GULF OIL SPILL-SETTLEMENT — BP is trying to persuade a federal appeals court that it should throw out a judge's approval of the company's multibillion-dollar settlement with Gulf Coast residents and businesses.
— CHINA-PETROCHINA-SINOPEC — Environmental regulators take the unusual step of blocking China's two biggest oil producers from expanding their refining capacity after they failed to meet targets for reducing pollution, a fresh blow to China's state-owned oil industry. AP photos.
— CHINA-EGYPT-SINOPEC — Chinese state-owned oil producer will purchase a $3.1 billion stake in an Egyptian oil and gas production operation from U.S.-based Apache Corp.
— GENERAL ELECTRIC-CONSUMER LENDING — A published report says General Electric plans to spin off the consumer lending business of its finance arm with an initial public offering of stock that could come early next year.
CHINA-STOCK MARKET SWING
BEIJING — One of China's biggest securities firms is fined $85 million and four executives banned from the industry after computerized trading mistakes caused wild swings in Chinese stock prices. State media says Chinese regulators also ordered Everbright Securities to stop trading on its own account. By Joe McDonald.
BRUSSELS — The number of jobless in Europe fell slightly in July and business optimism rose, adding to the tentative signs that the region's economy is staging a modest comeback. By Juergen Baetz.
— EUROPE-ECONOMY-GLANCE — A breakdown of unemployment across Europe and the eurozone.
— JAPAN-ECONOMY — Japan's economic recovery gains momentum as manufacturing accelerates and consumer prices rise for a second straight month, despite weaker household spending and retail sales. AP photos.
— CHINA SECURITY CZAR — China's top leaders endorse a corruption investigation into a former security czar who was until recently one of the country's most powerful politicians. AP photos.
— INDIA-ECONOMY — India assures foreign investors it is not contemplating capital controls as a step to stabilize the falling Indian rupee. AP photo.
— AUSTRALIA-EARNS-VIRGIN — Major shareholders in Virgin Australia Holdings Ltd., the country's No. 2 airline, provide it with a line of credit after the carrier reported a 98 million Australian dollar ($88 million) annual loss.
— SOUTH AFRICA STRIKES — A spokesman for a mineworkers' union in South Africa says gold miners will go on strike next week after talks with South Africa's Chamber of Mines collapsed Friday.
— BRITAIN-SNOWDEN JOURNALIST — The Guardian newspaper and Britain's government agree to allow the authorities to keep sifting through documents seized from the partner of one of the paper's journalists until a full hearing on the issue in October. AP photo.
— THAILAND-BLACKFACE DOUGHNUT AD — A leading human rights group calls on Dunkin' Donuts to withdraw a "bizarre and racist" advertisement for chocolate doughnuts that shows a smiling woman in blackface makeup.
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Wall Street ends a rocky August wondering what to expect next from the Federal Reserve, rising interest rates and potential fallout from rising tensions in the Middle East.
Tractor Supply to split stock
Shares of Tractor Supply set a 52-week high Thursday as the company said it will conduct a two-for-one stock split in September.